Monday, September 8, 2008
"It's My Way, or the Highway" - Part I
I'm again reading through one of my favorite books of the Old Testament: the Book of Jeremiah. I'm drawn to this book for various reasons. As a follower of Christ I am amazed, as well as encouraged, to read of how Jeremiah remained faithful to the Lord in the midst of hostile situations and a rebellious people. I also read Jeremiah because it helps me deal with sin in my life. Although God had delivered the Hebrew people from slavery in Egypt, led the nation faithfully through the wilderness, and provided for her well being, she still managed to forsake the Lord. This is why God asks, "Has a nation ever changed its gods. . .but my people have exchanged their Glory for worthless idols" (Jer 2:11, NIV). As I read through Jeremiah I am forced to look at my own life and ask the question: "Am I guilty of sin and rebellion against God?" "Am I living my life my way?"
Many times our sins invite suffering. When people ask why bad things happen to them, they rarely associate the suffering with the actions that produced it. Questions dealing with suffering have multiple layers to its response. But, if we are honest, many times, we are the recipients of our own poor choices. This is what God tells Judah, the southern tribe of Israel, when she is taken captive to Babylon (modern day Iraq). "My people have committed two sins: they have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water" (Jer 2:13). Many times our problems began long before with initial steps of rebellion and of actions we took that we knew were not pleasing to the Lord.
Jeremiah was trying to provoke a response from Judah about her suffering. Her suffering was not the result of a capricious God bent on dishing out pain. Jeremiah wanted to help Judah understand why she was taken captive to another nation. Her predicament had not come as a surprise. The tribes of the northern kingdom, Israel, had been taken captive to Assyria in 722 B.C. Many prophets preached to the southern tribes of Judah, calling her to repentance (=to turn away from sin and live differently according to the ways of God), but she refused to listen. This is why Jeremiah tells Judah, "Your wickedness will punish you; your backsliding will rebuke you" (Jer 2:19a). Did you catch what the prophet said? The captivity was the consequence of her rebellious lifestyle and unrepentant sinful choices. Sadly, the final invasion and captivity of Jerusalem took place in 586 B.C.
Jeremiah calls God's people to repentance. To turn from evil ways and live unto the Lord. Before its demise as an exiled community God called Judah to reflect on her condition and return to him. In addition, one of the things that the prophet did was to try to elicit a change of behavior from God's people as he recorded the emotions of a loving God and Father. Jeremiah wanted wayward Judah to turn from her evil ways and return to her God. (To be concluded tomorrow)
Por Su Gracia y Poder